Korean Beef Short Ribs (Kalbi)
There's an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant here in Denver (sushi in Colorado, I know) that has an amazing "BBQ Beef" appetizer on the menu. Lucky for me and my cousin, the beef short ribs are on the all-you-can-eat menu and with those things alone, we usually get our money's worth. But when we're not in the mood for the sushi overload, we talk about how delicious those beef ribs are and how in the world we could make them ourselves.
I've tried lots of complicated recipes to try to mimic the result, to varying degrees of success. I've also tried to use shortcuts (like prepared kalbi marinade) and those results are also usually "good but not perfect". Some more experimenting has resulted in a great, super easy recipe that we can confidently say are just about right. The directions are below.
A note about the meat-- you want to get this specific cut in order to get the best results. We've found them advertised differently depending on where we're shopping. Flanken style short ribs are what they're commonly called. They're thin cut slices of meat, including little discs of the bone, from your traditional BBQ-focused beef short rib. Essentially, the bones are cut across, rather than being cut apart. Sometimes they're called kalbi. We usually find them with 3-4 bone discs per slice, about 1/2 an inch thick, usually 10-20 per package. The cut includes meat interspersed with muscle, fat and tendon, which makes for a strong beefy flavor. They could also be advertised as English Cut, but those are 2-3 inches thick, cut in the same cross-bone direction.
Unless you're shopping at an Asian market, you may have to ask your butcher to cut them for you. We have, randomly, seen them at our local Walmart once in a while. But we like to get our flanken short ribs from the local Korean market-- H Mart-- where they're not cheap (about $15/pound) but delicious. We've even found they carry Snake River Farms waygu at H Mart! (Not the flanken short ribs, but thin sliced waygu brisket for other forms of Korean BBQ).
Make this marinade below, give the meat a bath for an hour or so, and crank up the heat on your grill. I use a cast iron griddle in my grill, as hot as it will go, to get the best all-over crust. Serve with a stir fried vegetable (we like bok choi) and some steamed white rice. Enjoy!
Korean Beef Short Ribs
6 tbsp granulated white sugar
6 tbsp soy sauce
6 tbsp apple juice
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 tsp grated ginger
kosher salt & pepper
2 lbs 1/2 inch thick, cross-cut, bone-in short ribs (flanken short ribs)
vegetable oil spray as needed
sticky white rice for serving
thinly sliced green onions
In a bowl or dish, combine sugar, soy sauce, apple juice, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and a splash of water. Mix until well combined. Using your hands, place the beef in the prepared marinade and move the meat around well to get well-covered and combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, preheat your grill with a cast iron griddle or plate until very very hot. I turn my grill to the highest setting and let the grill get hot for at least 20 minutes.
When ready to cook, remove meat from marinade and gently pat dry with a paper towel. If you leave too much marinade on the meat, you will have a hard time getting good crust. You want to grill, not steam your meat!
Spray preheated cast iron with a bit of vegetable oil spray. It should smoke almost right away.
Cooking in batches, place marinated short ribs on grill, cooking 2-3 minutes per side until a good crust is developed. Flip and repeat with second side. Remove to a tray and cover with foil until all ribs are cooked.
Serve immediately with rice and a veggie. Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions for garnish.